The historicity of the event that the pericope adulterae (John 7:53–8:11) relates has not been disproved. The orthodoxy of the words of Jesus it contains also cannot be denied. If the canonicity of the pericope is determined according to the same historical and content-related criteria that the ancient church applied during the development of the canon of Scriptures, then nothing speaks against its canonical status. This sort of assessment does not rest on an infallible and therefore binding decision of the church or its magisterium or on an internal testimony of the Holy Spirit. When the pericope adulterae is accepted into the NT, it should not be placed between chaps. 7 and 8 of the Gospel of John because it is not part of the original text of this book. Rather, it should be put after John’s Gospel, because it probably comes from the same historical root. Those who hesitate to accept the pericope adulterae as canonical can remove it from the NT without having to fear a serious loss. Everything the pericope has to say is also expressed several times in other places of the biblical canon. The additional benefit of the narrative of Jesus and the adulteress is not some singular ethical or theological statement. Its particular value lies in the fact that the pericope presents the forgiveness offered by Jesus to those who are condemned to death by the Mosaic law in a more elaborate, more colorful, and more pointed way than any other passage of the NT.
Armin D. Baum; Does the Pericope Adulterae (John 7:53–8:11) Have Canonical Authority? An Interconfessional Approach. Bulletin for Biblical Research 1 January 2014; 24 (2): 163–178. doi: https://doi.org/10.2307/26371142
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